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Sunday picnic: Suwanee unveils first draft of 2020 vision plan

Photo: David McGregor
Dozens of members of the Suwanee community converse during a picnic to discuss the citys 20/20 vision plan on Sunday afternoon..

Photo: David McGregor Dozens of members of the Suwanee community converse during a picnic to discuss the citys 20/20 vision plan on Sunday afternoon..

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Photo: David McGregor Le Doan talks with Jessica and Eli (8) Roth during a picnic to discuss the citys 20/20 vision plan on Sunday afternoon at the Everett Music Barn in Suwanee.

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Photo: David McGregor Mayor of Suwanee Jimmy Burnette addresses the crowd gathered for a picnic to discuss the citys 20/20 vision plan on Sunday afternoon in Suwanee.

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Photo: David McGregor Cathy and Rob Rohloff eat during a picnic and information meeting about the citys 20/20 vision plan on Sunday afternoon in Suwanee.

SUWANEE -- When Scott and Cyndi Auer walked down Stonecypher Road on Sunday afternoon, they were stopped by a passing car, and a woman who saw the makings of a community picnic.

"'We're house shopping," said the woman, Cyndi recalled. "We're not from here, but does this go on all the time?' She was so excited. That's why we live here,"

After about a year of discussions, Suwanee's residents gathered on a warm and sun-splashed Sunday afternoon to discuss the vision of the city for the next decade.

The 20/20 vision plan summarized residents' opinions and priorities that were gathered in roundtables and focus groups by the city and a Philadelphia-based consultant. But the after-church crowd of about 200 at the Everett Music Barn chatted over barbeque sandwiches, side dishes like potato salad and baked beans, and brownies, cookies and sweet tea.

The Everett Family Band then played bluegrass music in the barn to close the afternoon.

Scott Auer and others noted the atmosphere of the gathering, and how it more hearkened back than looked ahead. Residents had their meals on the front lawn, then inside observed segments of the plan presented on posters.

"It's a mix of old-time gather with your neighbors, meet friends, meet some new people, have some dialogue out there, and then come in here and have another chance to comment," he said. "(City officials) continue to go out of their way to get feedback and make sure they're not just stuffing something down the community's throat."

Mayor Jimmy Burnette agreed.

"It's the community and small-town feel that's able to stay in Suwanee," he said. "Over the years we've heard in the planning sessions, we know Suwanee's growing and it's going to continue to grow. But we want to keep the community feel and we were able to work that out to make that happen. These little pieces here are what keep it a small town."

The first draft of the plan was unveiled with seven "guiding principles" or priorities to consider. They were economic development, communications and engagement, parks and open space, transportation, community culture, planning and public safety.

The next steps in the process are the consulting group, Interface Studio, will update the draft with comments from the picnic, its principal Scott Page said. Then the city council will approve it, and the plan will become the city's strategic plan. Finally, the specific items will be discussed each year as part of the budget process.

Comments

BenDover 2 years, 4 months ago

How much does their vision plan for the city cost us? How bout cutting our city taxes, that's a novel idea and I'm sure we would appreciate that vision.

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LilburnLady 2 years, 4 months ago

Imagine if Gwinnett County's leadership actually did something like this? Asking residents opinions and then incorporating those opinions into a vision plan? In nationwide polls, Suwannee has been listed in the top ten best cities to live in for several years running. The vision of the cities' residents and leadership has resulted in some of the highest property values in any city in Gwinnett county and made the quality of life there one of the highest in the nation. One can only hope that other cities in Gwinnett would follow their lead in making residents an integral part of their planning. Having a picnic to pull in residents to discuss future plans is much more imaginative than asking people to come sit in an auditorium on a weeknight after work to listen to a presentation of what some consultant thinks is best for our area. Kudos to Suwannee and their leadership. Their vision is actually coming to fruition and it's a beautiful one.

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kevin 2 years, 4 months ago

why does there always have to be a consulting group involved? Don't the people that get elected know how to do what is necessary to get a job done? This is why developers keep getting in our way and messing things up for the community. Just more wasted money if you ask me. The opinions from residents are great but then they take them to a consulting group to kill the good ideas.

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